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Fall maintenance conference goes virtual


Salt being loaded into a truck“Adjustment” might be a great word for 2020. Due to the global pandemic, several of our business practices have been modified to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our employees. One of these modifications is moving the annual fall maintenance conference to an online format with the theme of “Adapting to Changing Times.”

Tina Greenfield of the Maintenance Bureau said, “Typically the fall maintenance conference is a place where all of our highway maintenance supervisors and others in garage leadership positions get together to discuss common issues, listen to speakers present on relevant topics, and get a look at equipment displays. This year we’ll be able to do two out of those three, but in a virtual format.”

The four virtual sessions for this year’s conference will take place on Microsoft Teams. Employees can log on to Teams at specific times to participate live or log on to Teams later to view a recording of each session. 

Maintenance conference schedule

Craig Bargfrede of the Maintenance Bureau said, “While this is certainly a challenging time for all of us, moving the fall maintenance conference to an online format opens up some new opportunities, too.”

Bargfrede listed the new opportunities.

  1. Increased participation. This is the first time the information will be directly available to front-line workers since travel is not a consideration. Although each Teams session is limited to 250 logins, locations can have multiple people distanced in a break room or other space to participate in the session as a group. Participating in this way encourages discussion both online for all participants and in person within the smaller garage or circle settings.
  2. Recorded sessions. Each of the sessions will be recorded and posted on Teams for anyone who would like to watch them. 
  3. Streamlined content. The content for this year’s conference has been condensed from the typical 1.5 days into four shorter sessions, helping increase participation for those who found it difficult to carve out longer periods of time for the in-person conference.

IMG_0026Greenfield said, “Like many of the things we’re dealing with right now, there are trade-offs. The online meeting format gives us some new opportunities, but there are also some things that we’ll be missing, one of those being the equipment displays.”

She continued, “What we want to make sure we maintain is the personal connection. That’s one of the reasons we chose to do a Teams meeting. Participants can ask questions and make comments in real-time. We are going to do everything we can to encourage that participation.”

If you would like to participate in any of the sessions but did not receive an email invitation, please contact Tina Greenfield at, your district maintenance manager, or your local highway maintenance supervisor.

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Iowa highway in the evening